Defense key to Panthers' success this season

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HOOSICK FALLS, N.Y. >> Defense wins championships and that is exactly the formula the Hoosick Falls Central School girls basketball team is using to make a run at a second straight Section II, Class B championship.

"Our full court pressure defense is a huge key for us to take control of a game," said Hoosick Falls coach Eamonn DeGraaf. "It allows us to get quick transition baskets on offense and it has forced our opponents to commit a lot of turnovers."

All season the Panthers' pressure defense has been a thorn in the side for their opponents.

This year opponents are only averaging 34 points a game against Hoosick Falls. In fact the most points the Panthers have given up this season is 56, which came in one their two losses of the season to Susquehanna Valley and in their 64-56 win against Mount Anthony during the regular season.

Besides those two games, the Panthers have only given up 50 points or more once all season.

"Pressure on an offense can affect how it functions and that's why our defense is all based on pressuring the ball," DeGraaf said. "We throw out full court pressure defense on our opponent and we can also use a pressure defense when we're in our half-court defense. Either way, we will pressure the ball and that's how our defense operates."

Another reason why Hoosick Falls plays a lot of full court pressure throughout the game is because their offense is the best when it's operating in transition and is able to run down the court to convert on fast break opportunities.

"Our offense operates the best when we're on out the fast break and that's why our full court pressure defense is very important to how we play," DeGraaf said. "Not only does it help us get quick, easy lay ups, but as the other team tries to defend us in transition quicker, it opens up shots for us on the outside and in the paint as well."

Their full court defensive pressure philosophy has been the key to their 19-2 record this season and why the Panthers got the No.1 seed in the Class B bracket.

Now after a dominating performance in their 61-22 victory over Broadalbin-Perth in their opening round contest of the sectional tournament, Hoosick Falls will look to continue their defensive ways in their quarterfinals matchup against Wasaren League rival Stillwater to advance to the semifinals.

"To win on Saturday, we need to bring a lot of energy to the court and continue to execute our full-court pressure defense to perfection," DeGraaf said. "Those are keys to victory for us and if we oblige by them, we have a great chance to come out of the game victorious."

Hoosick Falls will host Stillwater in the twos Class B quarterfinal matchup on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.


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